"google galciv2 and wiki" http://galciv.wikia.com/wiki/Galactic_Civilizations_Wiki
A GREAT place to learn about GCII. A must-have bookmark for all novice GCII players imo.
"don't forget to land and re-take off the colony ship on the first turn. It starts with 100 pop but can hold 250" Great tip! I'll try that.
"do not build farms on farm bonus squares. That will not add to growth rate, but it will increase the max population on that planet. The problem is that morale/approval goes DOWN as pop goes up" Oops... I thought that the pop-based morale penalties were based on the fraction (CurrentPop/MaxPop). Another misconception on my part.
From that, I understand why farming on a bonus is a bad idea: because the maxpop will increase like crazy if you do, and the current pop will follow, along with the approval penalty. So it's better to build a market there, which can be replaced if/when I have access to more powerful morale booster buildings.
Regarding upgrades("converting your miner to a colony ship"): yes I know what you're talking about. I wouldn't have thought that a colony ship is in the miner "upgrade" options.
Regarding survey ships: I always built a tiny w/survey, smallest engine, one Life Support, and had it explore anomalies. But I had a different ship based on a freighter hull as well: one small engine, one/two LS, fill the rest with sensors. It's my SWACS vessel, currently with a detection radius of 8. It has to stay away from enemies, but it can do so... its role doesn't require to go close in. Maybe I should merge the two designs into one.
Another thing I might try: to commission mostly empty surveyors based on freighter hulls. And if one of these finds a "+x hitpoints" anomaly, I add as many lasers as she will hold... and voila, my first capital ship. It's a gamble but might be worth the trouble in a "many anomalies / slow research" game.
On a related note, my 2nd game is going much better... I picked +Planet quality (price 3), +30% economy (price 3), Lucky (price 1... can I have 4 of these?) & got rid of the production bonuses I had picked in game #1. Political power: the "+20% economy" one. I monitored my spending carefully (most imp'ly I didn't purchase any colony ships) and went no lower than 3500. BTW, I grabbed only one money anomaly ($500).
I'll try game #3 with the technocrats... picking 20% research is way more expensive than 20% economy, even without the neat sensor bonus the techies receive.
Luck, I think I'll keep that one FOREVER. Scoring a 5hp hit with a particle beam is just nuts, and its price --- one mesly pick point! It's like the Sniper trait in Fallout.
Thanks again, and your karma is in the mail. (I thought it were a currency thing which could only be gained in online sessions... Man I'm such a noob. %-S )